Skip to main content

Full text of "Artificial dentistry among the Etruscans"

See other formats
















Proofs that the art of Dentistry was practised by 
the Etruscans, have been found at different places, and 
that they had arrived at considerable skill, is very 

In the Etruscan Museum in Florence there are the 
crowns of eleven teeth, one canine and ten molars ; 
they are completely hollowed out (the enamel only re- 
maining, and this is perfect) ; not a particle of the den- 
tine, excepting in two, has been left. They appear as 
if they had been prepared to crown broken teeth or 

— 4 — 
roots; they are greenish in colour as if they had been 
in contact with bronze. 

In Florence, in the writer's possession, there exists 
an Etruscan skull, in the under jaw of which a gold 
band or ribbon has been interlaced in and about the 
incisors, embracing the canines and bicuspids. This pro- 
bably was done for the purpose of supporting some 
of the teeth when they had been loosened. 

At Marzabotto, near Bologna, in the collection of 
Count Pompeo Aria, there is a deciduous incisor tooth 
mounted exquisitely in gold; in this there is a loop, 
through which a cord was passed, so that it could be 
worn as an ornament. 

— 5 - 
An artificial tooth attached by gold wire was found 
in an Etruscan skull, at Marzabotto also. This skull 
was sent with other Etruscan objects to a foreign scien- 
tific society, but it was never returned to Count i^ria. 

In the National Museum at Rome at the Villa G-iulia, 
there is an Etruscan skull which has a small denture in 
gold. There is a space which probably held a false 
tooth ; the rivet passing from side to side would indi- 
cate that the tooth was held there in place by it. 

At Corneto, an Etruscan city some 40 miles from 
Eome, in the two Museums existing there, are four spe- 
cimens of Etruscan dentures carrying artificial teeth : 
three for the upper jaw and one for the lower. 

- 6 — 
They all are made witli bands, without any palate 
and resemble the « bridge work » of these days. 

The principal one is an upper denture in gold, with 
eight apertures or rings. Five of these passed around 
teeth which were standing during the life of the person 
who wore them. 

Two of these, the right upper canine and the right 
upper lateral, are still remaining in their rings or bands. 

These bands extend from the right upper canine to 
the first left upper molar. 

The two front upper incisors and the first upper 
left bicuspid were false teeth. 

Owing to the incrustation of " tufo," earth, tartar, or 
probably of all combined about the two front upper 
incisors, and especially on their base or on that part 
which rested on the gum, it was very difficult to judge 
of what they were composed. 

They, apparenth^, were carved out of one piece of 

It may be stone, pottery, a fish's tooth, or a piece 
of enamel of a large animal's tooth. 

— 7 — 

They do not seem to be human teeth. 

The form has been given somewhat ronghly. 

They were rivetted from front to back with two ri- 
vets into the gold ring around them. 

The ring which had served to occupy the space of 
the left upper bicuspid had evidently supported a false 
tooth. This had disappeared, but the rivet of gold wire 
which passes from front to back shews evidently what 
purpose it had served. 

The piece terminates with a ring which encircled 
the first left upper molar. 

It is evident that one of the bicuspids had been lost 
during the life of the individual, for some time before 
the denture had been made. The space had closed up. 

The denture is of very excellent gold; it is proba- 
bly nearly pure in quality, rather thick, and made 
strongly; the workmanship is very good, and the plate 
has been carefully and nicely finished; no file marks 
are apparent: all is smooth and artistically done. 

The rings or bands are joined by solder, a solder so 
good that its colour, even after it has been under ground 
for so many centuries, probably twenty five or thirty, 
is equal to that of the other parts of the plate. — Even 
with a good lens it is impossible to detect any diffe- 
rence of colour, or any flaw of any description. 

In tlie Stanza Ottava, in tlie same Musenm at Cor- 
neto, there is another gold denture for the under jaw. 
It was made to embrace five teeth : two of these were 
the false teeth, one of them an incisor ; a human tooth 
is still in position. The other is missing. The gold 
rivets remain. 

The tooth fixed with a rivet has its root filed quite 

There are four divisions and the soldering is here 
also exceedingly good. 

The gold bands are thick and strong and appear to 
be almost pure. 

In the Palazzo Bruschi, also at Corneto, there are 
two other dentures, one to hold two upper front false 
teeth with rings around three teeth, which served to hold 
and sustain them in the mouth. These three teeth are 
still inside the band or rings which held them du- 
ring life. 

\[if 11 

— 9 — 

The other small denture has three teeth clasped 
and one empty space where the false tooth was at- 

It is made in gold bands with rivets of gold ; the 
union of the different rings had been brought about 
by the same admirable soldering. 





Los Angeles 
This book is DUE on the last date stamped below. 

BtOMED m^^ 74 


Foim L9-116w-8,'62(D1237s8)444